Woodwork With Will

Ambitious businesses have been blazing a trail of success across the UK with support from British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme, which is celebrating passing a major milestone, lending £600m to start-ups outside of London.

Start Up Loans provides mentoring, support and funding to aspiring business owners in every corner of the UK. It's impact has been particularly noticeable among individuals who might find it difficult to secure finance through traditional lenders.

Since its launch in 2012, the Start Up Loans programme has provided 68,559 loans to entrepreneurs outside of the capital. 

The North West received the highest number of loans outside of London with a volume of 10,881 (12%) worth over £94m. The South East received 8,378 loans (10%) worth over £81m, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber where a total of 7,497 loans (9%) were provided at the value of over £68m. These figures reflect the regional diversity of entrepreneurialism across the country and highlight the success of the programme in supporting SMEs that reside outside of the entrepreneurial hub of London.

The recipient of the 600 millionth pound from the Start Up Loans programme was Will Smith, from Northern Ireland. He took out a loan of £6,000 in January 2020 to launch Woodwork by Will – a bespoke wood furniture company. He used the money to invest in essential machinery and a table saw. 

Prior to receiving the loan, he was using a friend’s machinery for some of the bigger jobs, which was logistically complicated. Now that he has his own machinery, a job that would have taken three days can be completed in just half a day.

Will Smith, Founder of Woodwork by Will, said: “The support I have received from the British Business Bank has accelerated my business 12 months beyond where it would have been.

“I found the whole process with the bank very straightforward and would have no hesitation in recommending Start Up Loans to other entrepreneurs. I would go as far as saying that if you are serious about growth, this type of investment early on is essential, provided you are determined to put the work in.

“The mentoring elements would particularly suit someone who is starting their own business but doesn’t necessarily have a business background. I was offered mentoring from successful entrepreneurs on areas such as marketing, legal issues and insurance that kept me on the right track from the start.

“I had planned moving forward to take on bigger projects such as kitchens, and fit out projects and now my goals are much more realistic.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “Providing £600m worth of funding to new businesses outside of London is a huge milestone for the government backed Start Up Loans programme and reflects the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s small businesses at a grass roots level across the whole country.

“We have always been committed to providing support and funding to smaller businesses that hail from each corner of the country, particularly in areas of deprivation where people may struggle to access funding, and this milestone is tribute to that.

“We are proud that our loans, mentoring and support for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs is helping to support the Build Back Better agenda and we’re delighted to have been able to help Will make his dream into a reality”. 

Breakdown of loans by region excluding London

UK Region

Loans Made

Amount Lent (£)

Average Loan Amount (£)

East Midlands

4,883

41,863,670

8,573

East of England

6,106

55,471,473

9,085

North East

4,875

42,506,048

8,719

North West

10,881

94,240,374

8,661

Northern Ireland

1,356

11,049,064

8,148

Scotland

5,626

47,044,172

8,362

South East

8,378

81,207,421

9,693

South West

7,487

66,003,753

8,816

Wales

4,019

38,961,700

9,694

West Midlands

7,264

63,655,522

8,763

Yorkshire and The Humber

7,497

68,748,296

9,170

Region not obtained

185

2,164,521

11,700

Total

68,559

612,916,012

9,115

Start Up Loans figures up to 31 August, 2021.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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